The legacy of Associate Professor Peter Mullinger

Celebrating the career and contributions of Associate Professor Peter Mullinger

Colleagues and industry partners met at the end of last year to celebrate the rich and varied career of Associate Professor Peter Mullinger.

Man with White Beard and Pink Shirt looking at camera

Peter’s career began at 16 as a draughtsman and he expected he’d be working on a drawing board for life. Instead, he completed an engineering qualification at the recommendation of his boss and ended up travelling the world solving the challenges of the high temperature process industries. He finished his career at The University of Adelaide.

Colleagues have described him as someone with an uncanny ability to get to the bottom of a complex problem, an enormous capacity for hard work, great leadership skills, a brilliant mind, and a penchant for independent thinking. It’s been said he inspired confidence in being able to overcome difficult industrial challenges – and overcome he did.

For example, the company he’d formed, Fuel and Combustion Tech (FCT) International Ltd, established offices all over the world (with the head office now based in Adelaide) and became known for designing the flames for the Olympic torch and stadium flame at the Sydney Olympics.

In 2005, the University of Adelaide and FCT designed the flames for Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Festival Theatre for the State Opera. It was an audacious production.

“I was the safety person” Peter explains. “I had to work out how we could have 15 megawatts of heat released in the Festival Theatre without cooking everybody.”

Peter will be forever remembered for his work with the CRC for Clean Power from Lignite, at the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering.

He focussed on coal, particularly gasification, but also on improving combustion, and reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

And although he may play it down, his pioneering work was critical to the establishment of the Centre for Energy Technology (CET) in 2009.

At an age when most people retire, Peter turned to teaching and left a huge legacy in the hundreds of students he trained at the school of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials.

As for Peter’s future now he has formally retired, he says he is focusing on voluntary work, doing restoration projects and practical jobs for friends, running the science and engineering challenge for the Rotary Club and mentoring engineering students.

The University and wider profession will be forever grateful for his contributions.

Tagged in Chemical Engineering, Latest News and Achievements, fuel efficiency, industry based learning